Minister Flanagan to highlight British-Irish relations in visit to Cambridge and London5/9/15
Visit to include keynote addresses on the UK-EU relationship at Chatham House, and on Northern Ireland at the British Irish Association conference
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, is beginning a three-day visit from 5-7 September to the UK where the Minister will speak at Chatham House on Irish-British relations in the context of the EU. He will also address the annual conference of the British-Irish Association (BIA) in Cambridge, support Irish food and drinks companies operating in the UK, and meet a body of Irish-connected British parliamentarians.
Speaking ahead of the visit, the Minister said:
“As the new political season unfolds, I want to make the most of this visit to confront current challenges while also highlighting the scale and great potential of the Irish-British relationship.
“Both Chatham House and the BIA conference provide excellent environments to put across Ireland’s priorities, with a strong focus this year on the UK’s forthcoming EU referendum and on developments in Northern Ireland. This visit will also come just ahead of the talks convened with the political parties who subscribed to the Stormont House Agreement. I will stress that the sustainability of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland must be ensured and that all of the parties should constructively seize this opportunity”.
Minister Flanagan will first travel to Cambridge on Saturday for the annual conference of the BIA. The body, which was established in 1972 and focuses especially on the peace process in Northern Ireland, plays an important role in supporting British-Irish relations.
The Minister will address the BIA Conference on Sunday morning and will emphasise the need to overcome the current difficulties in Northern Ireland. The British government’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers MP, will address the conference on Saturday. The Taoiseach will have addressed the conference on Friday evening, while Minister Frances Fitzgerald is also participating.
On Monday (7 September) Minister Flanagan will speak at a special event organised at the influential Chatham House institute. The Minister will explain why British membership of the EU matters to Ireland. He will also describe how Ireland can work with the UK in support of sensible EU reforms. The Minister will share too his reflections from his own experience of involvement in EU referendums in Ireland.
In London, the Minister will support the Irish food and drinks industry with a visit to a food fair at which 16 Irish companies are participating. The final feature of the visit is a meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Irish in Britain (APPG) at which issues of mutual importance will be discussed.
5 September 2015